Syphilis is on the rise in the NWT

Public Service Announcement

Yellowknife — September 7, 2022

The Chief Public Health Officer is urging residents to get tested for syphilis. A syphilis outbreak in the NWT is growing at an alarming rate that is consistently and significantly higher than the national average.

Syphilis is a treatable infection that usually spreads through unprotected oral, genital, or anal sex with an infected person. The infection can also be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy. The first sign of infection is usually a painless sore on the genitals, anus, or inside of the mouth that usually goes away and is easy to miss. Left untreated, syphilis can cause serious health problems, or even death.

Not every infected person will have symptoms. The only way to know definitively whether you have syphilis is to get tested.

If you are sexually active, it is strongly recommended that you:

  • use condom protection
  • limit and know your sexual partners
  • get tested for syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections every time you have a new sexual partner. If you are not in a monogamous relationship, you should get tested more often.

If you are pregnant, you should be tested for syphilis at least 3 times: in the first trimester, at 28-30 weeks, and around the time of delivery. If you are thinking about getting pregnant, it is strongly recommended that you take a syphilis test first.

Call your local public health clinic or community health centre to book an appointment.

Visit for more information.


For media requests, please contact:

Jeremy Bird

Manager, Communications

Department of Health and Social Services

Government of the Northwest Territories

(867) 767-9052 ext. 49034